Monday, March 26, 2018

Happiness & Relaxation

While I was pregnant, I tried to stay as active as possible up until Raza’s birth. People kept telling me to relax and that I was crazy for showing up to meetings and events. Their statements implied that I was showing up for others and didn’t need to exert myself in that way. But what they were failing to realize was that I was showing up for myself.

You see my happiness comes from my productivity. I feel at peace when I know I have done something to help my loved ones, to further issues I care about and completed my to do list at work and at home. While I enjoy my facials and massages, I’m not really sure my definition of relaxation is the same as the universal definition of relaxation. 

Needless to say, this hasn’t changed after having Raza.

I was emailing the day after having Raza and participating in a panel three weeks after his birth. Once again, I started hearing comments like “don’t worry about this, you should be home”, “you need to relax” and “enjoy time with your baby.” I know these statements come from a good place. But they  also imply that I am doing something wrong. Why am I expected to stop doing the things that I enjoy? If I can make it work, then let me. Women already have to navigate the loss of their social calendars and certain friendships as a result of becoming pregnant and a mom. And don't even get me started on the fact that this conversation isn't even an issue for dads.

Don’t get me wrong, I have days of zero energy. But if I feel good then I want to go about my day as I would have with or without a child and whether I am pregnant or not. In both instances, I listen to my body and my doctor first and foremost. If neither object, then I move forward.

I love spending time with Raza. When he is up, he has my undivided attention. But Raza also sleeps close to fourteen hours a day and feeds for three to four hours a day. That leaves plenty of time for me to actually do other things like check emails, attend meetings, make phone get the point. This is where keeping track of his schedule comes in very handy.

More importantly, it helps me find a balance between my new and old identities. Women already have to navigate hormones and changing bodies while they are trying to figure out how to raise a child. Outlets for intellectual stimulation are rare at this stage unless we make it a point to make this a priority. It is definitely a priority of mine.

We should stop assuming that there is one uniform approach to pregnancy or motherhood because there isn’t. No one should be made to feel like they aren’t doing enough or are a bad parent because they decide to spend time with someone or something other than their child. As always, each mama, each baby and each circumstance are different.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

My new normal

As a first time parent, you end up doing things that you never thought you’d do. I am going to assume this is really the case for all parents and not just us newbies. These things vary in grossness and silliness. 

Singing. I know I can’t sing. But I know Raza likes music and when I sing to him. I also know I sound ridiculous singing Hakuna Matata but I do it for the smiles and nap time. So far, I’m the only lucky recipient of these smiles and I love it.

Speaking of sounds, you also discover the power of sounds. My kid can sleep through Timon and Pumbaa singing Hakuna Matata but he will wake up right away at the sound of my phone charger hitting the floor. What’s the difference? I have no idea! Every time Raza sleeps, you will find me intentionally not flushing the toilet and tippy toeing around him. If he happens to be in my arms while sleeping, I’ll grab things with my feet and stretch in ways I didn’t know I could.  Him sleeping is good for my sanity and I don’t care if I look ridiculous in the process.

Documentation. For starters, you have to document every time they go and feed the first few days in the hospital to ensure all is well with their digestive tract. We did this for about a week and then stopped because it was too cumbersome. But then at his one-month checkup his pediatrician asked how often Raza was eating, sleeping, pooping and I had no idea. With little sleep, you barely remember the time, let alone what happened two hours ago. And so now I use the Glow Baby app and document everything. I know it sounds like a lot but it’s actually really useful. I am starting to see his patterns. This helps immensely in planning my outings and meetings.

Then there is your comfort with pee and poop. You become very comfortable with the two. You will get peed on. How often will obviously depend on your baby's gender..we have had multiple times in one day. Have you ever heard of fluffing out a diaper? I hadn’t. And I had changed many diapers before! I discovered this after Raza peed on our friend while wearing a diaper. It turns out this is pretty common for newborns. You should always fluff out the diaper. Of course there are still accidents that happen after bath time or when you are changing their outfits. Like yesterday, he peed on my newly washed sheets while I was changing him on the bed. Rookie mistake. But you can’t always dress them on the changing table. What did I do? I used some wipes on both of us, spot treated the sheets and called it a day. It isn’t possible to give him a bath after each time or find the time for me to shower after every accident. Just like it isn’t possible to always sleep when the baby sleeps (worst advice ever).

You win some and you lose some. My new normal is just that, mine. Like each pregnancy, like each child: everyone is different. You have to stay calm and handle each situation with humor and patience. Babies can sense your stress and it only stresses them out so there is no point. Get plenty of cheek cuddles afterwards and everything will be alright.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Becoming a mom

Raza turns a month old on Friday. A month! To say the past four weeks have flown by would be an understatement. The days do go quickly but when you are doing the same thing over and over again you also forget the date, the time, the day of the week.

Becoming a parent is unlike anything else in this world. The emotions that come with it are the most powerful and consume all of you, more than you even thought you had to give. I experienced so much despite the never ending cycle of feeding, burping, changing and napping. The term zombie took on a whole new meaning during those first two weeks. It didn’t really matter if I ate, showered, changed. It was all about Raza. No matter how much you read, what others have told you, nothing really prepares you for it until you are in it.

For starters, I am now responsible for another human! What I do with him, shapes his future.

The first few weeks are excruciatingly painful.  That immense sense of responsibility definitely takes its toll. It is physically taxing! After all, this cute little human did come out of me. Simple things like getting out of bed, sitting up and down become a huge task. I had to have Asghar give me a hand because my lower body strength did not exist.

I became a food source. The female body is capable of so many monumental things that it is incomprehensible. Raza and I, luckily, figured out a rhythm early on. But I wont lie, breastfeeding was the thing I was scared of the most. I and only I could do this for him. And I needed to do it every two hours, really it ends up being every 45 minutes, in those first two weeks. The time starts from the start time, not the end time. Who knew. But it is also a beautiful moment that only he and I share and I wouldn’t change a thing about it.

There are so many diapers. For an eight-pound human, this kid can eat and there are dirty diapers beyond your wildest dreams. When people said we would need 300 diapers for the first month, I laughed. Turns out, it’s true. And with diapers come wipes, butt paste, diaper pails, liners, diaper bag and all these things that you become familiar with really quickly. You learn by trial and error.

There are no plans. Right before Raza’s first doctor’s visit, he had a meltdown and peed on himself as we were about to head out. We had these grandiose plans that we would take a leisurely stroll with him to the appointment. But in reality, we drove, left the house one minute before the appointment and looked like a deer had hit us when we arrived. We also arrived without our diaper bag. He of course, dirtied his diaper during the short two minutes from when we left the house and when we arrived. The nurse asked us to change him and Asghar and I just looked at each other like we failed. She smiled and gave us a diaper and some wipes. Since then we have learned that the diaper bag goes everywhere and that plans are lofty goals but reality is something different. We just need to go with the flow.

Everyone wants to visit the baby. Yes, they want to say hi to me too but they really want to stare at him. Which is totally fine because he is adorable. But on some days that is a lot when you haven’t gotten out of your pajamas and feel like a Whitewalker. For someone who is always organized, in meetings and doing things, this one was hard. I had to tell people no. There are good days and bad days. And on bad days, I can't muster up the energy to dress up and be on. I just need to be in my own comfortable state with my baby. Having said that, for me it is important to wash up and get dressed. It changes my attitude right away. And when I don’t, it makes me sad and feel sorry for myself for no reason. I’m still trying to find the balance and do this everyday. Eventually, I hope we get out of the house everyday. 

I was lucky. I had help the first four weeks. My mom came to stay with us for three weeks and Asghar took four weeks off. This week is my first week alone with Raza. We are still figuring things out but it has gotten better and easier. I have the utmost respect and admiration for single moms. I have no idea how they do it all alone. I can’t imagine experiencing the past four weeks on my own.  I didn’t write this to scare anyone. It’s more for me to process that we brought a human into this world. In my opinion, parenthood is the best and most important thing in the world. It is beautiful and magical but it is also tough and painful. I am lucky enough to have close girlfriends that tell me the truth whenever I have a question. Magical doesn’t always mean cute faces and cuddles. And that’s ok. The cute faces and cuddles do make it all worth it.

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